Mazaya underlines commitment to travel retail at MEADFA – The Moodie Davitt Report

Premium shisha molasses brand Mazaya is targeting further expansion in the Middle East and African markets.

Its focus on the region, and its 2022/2023 expansion plans have received a kick start through new listings with Lagardère Travel Retail and Dufry. Other collaborations are in the pipeline as Mazaya seeks to grow its footprint and market share in travel retail.

Mazaya is a Gold Sponsor of the three-day Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) Conference in Dubai, 21-23 November.

As reported, MEADFA and event partner TFWA have a strong line-up of industry speakers for the conference which is hosted by Dubai Duty Free and held at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel (owned by the leading travel retailer) close to The Irish Village.

In this Q&A with The Moodie Davitt Report, Mazaya Global Duty Free Manager Rawan Elayyan outlines the brand’s strategy following the challenges posted by the pandemic, a period when it managed to exceed its 2019 benchmarks in some countries and markets.

That speedy recovery, she says, is due to a combination of a complete shift in focus, an adventurous Research and Development department, a constant quest for new flavours, and a strong social media following. The brand boasts close to 38,000 followers on its @mazayaarabia Instagram account where it features regular updates to its product line-up.

How would you describe Mazaya’s 2022-2023 brand strategy for the Middle East? 

With the recent turbulence in the travel retail industry, we had to completely shift our 2020 and 2021 strategy towards sustainability and contingency. We had to develop our current listings to accelerate the recovery rate and support the operators with the incurred obstacles due to the drastic drop in pax flow.

Our altered strategy was a tremendous success. Many initial researches have shown that the travel retail industry will need, optimistically, until 2023 to fully recover and return to 2019 figures and, pessimistically, until 2026.

The good news is that Mazaya has already fully recovered in many locations, even exceeded 2019 benchmarks in some. We strongly believe that our strategy has played a major role in the speedy recovery rate we have witnessed.

Of course, some shops, where travel restrictions have been in place for a longer period, have not fully recovered. For these locations, we have prepared similar plans, although even more enhanced as we have learned from our mishaps and we know now what activities will work better in such environments.

Having said that, our 2022-2023 strategy is towards expansion. Throughout the pandemic, Mazaya as a brand was focused on maintaining the current business. Adding to that, operators were a bit hesitant to add a new category or brand in their portfolios. This is not the case anymore.

Our expansion strategy had an early kick off with two main listings: with Lagardère Travel Retail in airport duty free shops in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam) and Dufry in Morocco (Casablanca and Marrakesh). We also have a couple of new interesting listings in the pipeline but until now they have not been completely shaped up.

In the upcoming two years, we will be focusing on Africa, the Americas and parts of Europe as shisha popularity continues to be on the rise among  international smokers. This offers us even more scope for expansion.

Another important focus is consumer activations. As you know, many activations were paused; people were not as comfortable as they used to be during their duty free shopping experiences. But now, with many health precautions in place, people are adapting to the new norms and we are really keen to reconnect with our consumers and even reward their loyalty to Mazaya.

Mazaya has undergone a brand refresh in some markets. What drove that? Are you targeting younger and possibly female consumers?

In Egypt we upgraded our presentation at Cairo International Airport in Terminals 2 and 3 earlier this year, followed by similar changes at airports in Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. A brand refresh has also taken place at Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport Arrivals and Departure.

No matter how well a brand performs, it needs consumers to sell. In the past two years, the most important factors that influenced performance were pax flow and travel restrictions.

The brand refresh has been influenced by Mazaya’s proper cycle plan to encourage travellers to buy. During the pandemic period, consumers tended to be more price sensitive and we served them by our valuable price-off policy.

Another activity that played an important role was our glass shisha gift-with-purchase offer. Initially, we used this to grow sales, with quite dramatic results. I believe it will have an even bigger impact post COVID-19 as many countries have banned shisha service in restaurants so people were smoking shisha at home. So, it is as if we are presenting the whole shisha kit for our consumers.

Of course, there are some significant external factors too such as Dubai’s influx of tourists for the highly anticipated Expo 2020, which started in October and will continue till the end of March 2022. Saudi Arabia is heavily marketing its vision 2030 with plans to position the kingdom as an international tourism and business hub, and Qatar succeeded in positioning Doha as a key transit point in international air travel.

Mazaya has witnessed a brand refresh as a result of all these factors. Nevertheless, it is not about targeting a new specific audience, be that women or younger consumers, because our vision has always been towards diversity. That is the reason we have a wide range of flavours that cater to different tastes and demographics.

What makes Mazaya stand out in travel retail?

Brand awareness is key in the travel retail sector. In regions where shisha is already part of the lifestyle a significant effort in creating product awareness is eliminated. As a brand you need to understand your targeted audience because setting a relevant proper portfolio is key. That needs to be varied and as per the market trend.

Our objective will be mainly to induce trial. Unfortunately, sampling is not allowed in travel retail so we will be focusing on promoting the smallest size available which is the 250gr. This size is convenient for trying out a new flavour or even a new brand, which will automatically result in increasing the brand awareness.

Consumer activations are also an important focus; to learn more about our consumers, cater for their needs and connect with them. Finally, topping our plan up with experiential activations to get even closer to our consumers and build memories with them.

What makes the brand really stand out in travel retail is actually a combination of many factors. It is providing unique premium products, a solid understanding of our consumers and their needs and connecting with the targeted audience through tactical and experiential activations.

As the logo indicates, Mazaya focuses on the human element. To us is it very important to be sincere to our shoppers and think in their mindset to serve their needs well. I believe this is why Mazaya stands out.

What do you consider Mazaya’s key strengths. And what is the plan in terms of new products and flavours?

One important factor that sets Mazaya apart relates to the premium ingredients we use in our blends. We only use single-origin French tobacco leaves with pure honey and high-quality glycerin.

French tobacco leaves are the most premium in the industry and they have a high absorption quality that allows the flavour to last longer. We are also known to strictly use food-grade flavours, and our molasses have the perfect balance of tobacco strength and flavour intensity. This is guaranteed to take the shisha smoking experience to the next level.

Our molasses is made in highly developed facilities and it goes through several stages before it is packed and ready to be shipped all over the world. We invite you to take a virtual tour at our state-of-the-art production facilities in Jordan here.

In addition to our superior ingredients, our wide range of flavours cater to different tastes. Mazaya’s portfolio comprises over 150 flavours of fruits, mixes, spices, desserts and many more.

Our R&D department is always entertaining us with so many new flavours. We have not announced them all in travel retail media but readers can be updated via our Instagram page @mazayaarabia.

Tell us about your brand identity and the ‘Seduce your Senses’ tagline?

Our brand identity is inspired by special moments shared with family and friends, as shisha smoking is a social activity that brings people together.

This is manifested by the Mazaya logo showing two faces bonding together with affection. Coming to our tagline Seduce your Senses, this is inspired by our premium ingredients and long-lasting flavours, and how they are combined to produce tobacco that tackles all your senses.

As much as we are proud with our logo and brand tagline, we are in the process of elevating our current identity. Of course, the uplifted identity will still be in connection with our vision of special moments shared by people.

How important is the MEADFA event for Mazaya?

MEADFA is the key travel retail event for Middle East and Africa, and since the greater Middle East is the strongest market for Mazaya, it is very important for us for be there and show support for the travel retail industry in our region.

In fact, Mazaya has always been a key partner for MEADFA and this year we are proud to be a Gold Sponsor for the event. We invite all attendees to enjoy our shisha service during lunch and explore our exceptional flavours.

MEADFA definitely brings a lot of value to our brand as it is a good platform to meet and network with the different players in the travel retail channel in our region, and to attend sessions featuring key industry experts to explore the recent trends and untapped opportunities in our business.

Source: Einnews

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